Popular South African musician surrenders life to Christ after near-death experience

By Ken Kagicha |
Black Coffee with Grammy Award
Black Coffee, winner of the Best Dance/Electronic Music Album award, poses in the winners photo room during the 64th Annual GRAMMY Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 03, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. | David Becker/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

South African award-winning songwriter, DJ and record producer, Nkosinathi Maphumulo, has narrated his near-death experience in South America that contributed to his decision to follow Jesus. In an interview with Kaya FM presenter Thabo Mokwele, Maphumulo, who is better known by his stage name DJ Black Coffee, said that an airplane accident on his way to Argentina made him seriously rethink his life decisions.

Black Coffee suffered multiple injuries after his plane made a hard landing in Uruguay on his way to Mar del Plata Airport in Argentina in mid-January. The DJ got a chartered flight from Brazil where he had performed in various clubs, but the plane was forced to make an emergency landing in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital.

“I put on my headphones and took a nap, but I was woken up by what seemed like a dream or nightmare. The plane was shaking extremely violently…I fell on the floor and I still had my headphones. There was a gospel song playing and there was this song playing ‘hallelujah, hallelujah’ in a loop, and the loop kept getting higher and higher. It felt like a choir or these angels were singing to save me at that moment,” said Black Coffee.

He was rushed to hospital where he stayed for a week to recover from a five-hour surgery to correct his upper spinal cord. The accident and its aftermath changed Black Coffee’s perspective on life and his destiny, he said.

“I saw my life ending. I wasn’t even praying to be alive, I was just praying to get to heaven. I was like, ‘don’t lock me out God’. I don’t want to be on the other side. I feel like I have been given a second chance,” Black Coffee told Kaya FM.

The incident, however significant, did not lead to an immediate repentance. Existential questions kept prodding in his heart and mind weeks after he was discharged from hospital and back home in South Africa. He felt like something was missing despite the near-death experience and he turned to Pastor Kabelo Mabalane for answers.

If anyone had an idea of what Black Coffee was going through, it would be Pastor Mabalane, he said. The respected former musician has inspired and supported a number of artists that have turned to Jesus. Having left a life of stardom and addiction, Mabalane had his own Damascus-experience two decades ago and can relate with the nagging feeling of “having everything but feeling empty.”

“I felt like I needed to be prayed for. So I called Kabelo and I told him how I was feeling. He came to the house and he gave me a perspective of life and faith that I never knew existed,” added Black Coffee who invited his friend to the house to hear what Pastor Mabalane had to say.

“After he shared a scripture, he asked, ‘gentlemen, are you ready to receive Christ as your savior?” he recounted.

Black Coffee said his first reaction was to resist the invite because of the perception he had of believers. He told Mabalane: “Most of the people that say they are saved are mean people, judgmental and corrupt. I told him that I don’t want to be in the shoes where people look at me and wait for me to fall. He told me, ‘that’s not how it works’.”

The pastor then patiently explained the gift of salvation through faith and not works emphasizing that Jesus had already paid the price of our sins. Mabalane emphasized that salvation is not for the perfect but a journey towards perfection through the help of God.

“He told us that ‘the first thing you need to do to walk this journey is to put Jesus in your heart’ and that’s when I accepted the call,” said Black Coffee.

Part of what convinced him to surrender to Christ was the feeling that despite having achieved his life goals - award winning artiste, playing in the world’s biggest music clubs and at festivals, and acquiring fame and wealth - he still felt there was something else that was missing. As a musician he had produced nine studio albums since 1994 and won several awards including 4 DJ awards and one Grammy Award.

“I love challenges. I love starting something and excelling in it. I cannot wait to excel in this journey. It’s going to take a while but I am embracing the journey. I know I am going to walk, fall, run, stumble but I want to keep walking right,” he said.